How Much Does It Cost To Build A House
Whether you custom build your dream house or build on a developed lot, building a home can be a daunting and expensive process. And unfortunately, because there are many customizable build options, it can be challenging to determine how much it will actually cost to build a house.
An NAHB construction cost survey from 2019 segmented the cost percentage of a “new construction” home’s sales price:
- 61% Total Construction Costs
- 18% Finished Lot Costs
- 9% Builder Fees
- 5% Overhead and General Expenses
- 4% Sales Commission
- 2% Financing Cost
- 1% Marketing Cost
Without talking to a general contractor, an accurate ballpark home cost can be tough to estimate. But by examining major factors like regional costs, home upgrades, and square footage, you can put together a decent estimate of how much it costs to build a house.
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Costs Vary by Region
The most significant factor in the cost of building a house is location. Building costs can vary dramatically depending on where you want to live. According to the US Census on New Single-Family Houses Sold by Price per Square Foot, the average building costs per square foot by region are:
- Northeast: $161.53 per square foot
- West: $139.48 per square foot
- South: $100.01 per square foot
- Midwest: $106.79 per square foot
If you live in the Northeast or West part of the United States, it will be significantly more expensive to build the same house than in the South or Midwest regions. You can also face additional building costs and restrictions depending on the city, county, or state within each region.
How Square Footage Impacts the Cost to Build a House
US Census sited that the average single-family home size in 2020 was 2,506 square feet of finished floor space. Once you know the square footage of your new home, you can multiply it by your region’s average building cost per square foot to get a base estimate for the cost of building a house.
Designing a Dream Home vs. A Planned Developer’s Home
Building a custom home comes with additional costs over buying a home within a development. Custom-home buyers will need to hire an architect that can cost between $1.50 - $2.50 per square foot. Then they may need electricity, plumbing, and roads to reach the main networks depending on the lot.
Because building a custom home can be expensive, many builders are shifting toward producing planned development communities. This allows developers and general contractors to offer more affordable new entry-level homes that are easier and cheaper to build. This gives the buyer some freedom for customization without all the extra costs associated with a custom build.
Are you building a custom home and need a site plan? My Site Plan can create an aerial-view drawing of your property for permits, planning, zoning, HOAs, and more.
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Upgrades that Can Raise the House Price
The NAHB survey points to eight stages of construction that factor into the cost of a house:
- 12% Foundation
- 17% Framing
- 15% Major Rough-ins
- 14% Exterior finishes
- 25% Interior Finishes
- 7% Final Steps
- 6% Site Work
- 4% Other Costs
Many of these stages can dramatically affect the price of the home based on customization and upgrades.
Laying the foundation is the first step in a new build. How much land needs to be cleared, graded, or the foundation’s complexity will factor into the cost of the foundation. On average, a foundation can cost between $4K and $21K.
Depending on the complexity of the house design, framing can incur additional costs. The cost of framing includes labor, materials, and hiring subcontractors. Framing costs generally run between $31K- $76K on average.
Major rough-ins on a new home include HVAC systems, electrical, ductwork, plumbing, and other fixtures. The layout of the house can significantly affect the cost of installing these systems. These systems can cost between $50K - $100K.
Exterior finishes include the house wrap, insulation, siding, windows, and doors. Materials for each of these finishes can vary in the price range. The average exterior finishes cost between $25K - $40K.
The most significant factor in construction costs is interior finishes. These finishes include insulation, drywall, flooring, countertops, cabinets, fixtures, sinks, faucets, paint, appliances, and lighting. And each of these finishes has a broad range of costs depending on the upgrades that you choose. The average for total interior finishes is $50K - $150K.
Other costs that can affect building a house include landscaping, cement for walkways and driveways, porches, home theaters, garages, pools, and sports courts.
Tips for Determining the Cost of Building a House
When trying to decide whether to build a new home or buy an existing home, remember it generally costs twice as much to build a new home. When determining the cost of building a house, a few useful tips to remember:
- Create a detailed construction contract with your general contractor.
- Pick a floor plan that works best for your family with little additional customization. Each change costs extra.
- Pad your budget for each stage of construction to minimize surprises.
- Determine your style for interior finishes and price out the cost for major finishes early.
- Upgrades are always desirable, but even the little upgrades add up.
- Add another 10% to your budget for the unexpected because something always comes up.
You’re Ready to Build
If you do your homework, you’ll be able to come up with a decent ballpark budget for building a new house. Whether you decide to pick a development lot or build your custom dream home, you’ll be prepared for the extra costs.
Need help getting started on your new build or development? Contact My Site Plan for floor plans, site plans, subdivision design, 3-D design of your blueprint, and real estate marketing.
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- Annie Rosellini